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I've been experiencing a weird issue where apps (Firefox, Dropbox, SABnzbd, foobar2000, VLC, Media Player Classic etc) won't appear/aren't accessible.

Internet Explorer: After clicking on the icon in taskbar for Firefox/etc, the icon will be active (has an outline) briefly before the border disappears. Then, nothing... It's as though I never did anything. I check Task Manager, and see the Process is listed but the memory is ~100 K only. Killing the process doesn't fix things for me -- the behavior keeps happening until I reboot.

I've re-installed Windows 7 Pro 64-bit; it's fully patched. Grabbed AVG Free -- nothing turns up in a scan. Seems to be if I start an app immediately after startup/login, things go OK but eventually I encounter this behavior with some app.

I'd Google, but I can't think/find a worthy description...

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This occasionally happens to me too. I usually just kill the running process(es) and that fixes it. – aligray Jun 20 '11 at 0:14
Does this happen with Notepad, Paint, or Calculator? How about the command-prompt (cmd.exe)? When you say “tray” do you mean the taskbar? – Synetech Aug 11 '11 at 3:16
@Synetech inc.: Correct, taskbar. I haven't tried with the apps you mentioned, but WinExplorer has suffered the same behavior (doesn't appear, but is listed as a process in TaskManager) -- I generally reboot as soon as I encounter the behavior. Takes two or three before things are normal again. – OMG Ponies Aug 11 '11 at 4:05
The apps I mentioned are tools that come with Windows. I was thinking that it could be a dependency problem, but it’s starting to sound more like a resource or corruption problem. Have you used Windows Update recently? Try running a system scan in the command-prompt: sfc /scannow. Also try booting into safe-mode and running a scan in there. – Synetech Aug 11 '11 at 4:35
@Synetech inc.: Will look into tomorrow, thx – OMG Ponies Aug 11 '11 at 4:54

Have you tried a rootkit sweeper? I have read that some kits can survive a normal reformatting of the OS. Microsoft just launched a sweeper application (in beta) that you can boot from disk.

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That is my fear. I haven't tried this yet -- appreciate the link! – OMG Ponies Jun 20 '11 at 2:09

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